American Pharoah goes to Saratoga for the Travers
Some 2,000 people visited Del Mar in California on Sunday morning. There were no races that early in the day. The thoroughbred track was the site of a routine workout by a not-so-routine thoroughbred.
Triple Crown champion American Pharoah was there for a workout that would determine whether he would race next in Saturday’s Travers Stakes at Saratoga in New York state.
After the much-watched workout, American Pharoah’s connections were quick to tell the assembled media to “Pack your bags” because the thoroughbred will be flown to the classy New York track on Wednesday (Aug. 26) after the post positions for the Travers are drawn on Tuesday (Aug. 25).
If American Pharoah races, Saratoga has agreed to increase by $350,000 the Travers purse, making the total money available in the race move to $1.6 million.
Not only was the purse money increased, Saratoga has announced the ticket sales for Saturday have already been capped at 50,000. . . and all of those tickets have been sold.
American Pharoah is the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
Earlier this month he ran in the Haskell Stakes in New Jersey and easily vanquished the other six thoroughbreds in the race, going off at odds of 1-10.
Following the confident win in the Haskell, trainer Bob Baffert took his champion back to California and stabled him at Del Mar.
His latest workout came on Sunday, and Baffert and company readied to fly back to the East Coast by charter and have American Pharoah ready for the so-called Mid Summer Derby.
Texas Red and Frosted, well rested but already victims of American Pharoah’s Triple Crown voyage in earlier races this year, are the probable prime challengers at Saratoga.
Baffert and company have said that if their winner of eight straight races comes out of the Travers as hale and hardy as he goes into it, they will want to race in the Oct. 31 Breeders Cup Classic at Keeneland in Kentucky.
But Baffert has not said whether he wants a race in between the Travers and the Breeders Cup Classic . . . and it will be nine weeks in between those two stakes adventures.
The Travers Stakes has only three-year-olds. The Breeders Cup Classic is for thoroughbreds of all ages.
Baffert’s Triple Crown colossus doesn’t like noise and races with his ears stuffed with cotton.
There will be wall-to-wall noise on Saturday, especially surrounding the tree-lined paddock where the patrons will be five-deep lining the grassy enclosure.
Fifty thousand fans shoe-horned into The Spa.
Most of them on site to see American Pharoah make mincemeat out of another field of three-year-olds.